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West Valley City Journal

No pumpkin patch or pony rides after rezone appeal denied

Oct 06, 2017 12:17PM ● By Travis Barton

Property at 3396 W. 3100 South must now come under compliance of a residential zone after it housed horses and chickens on its property hoping to be rezoned. (Courtesy West Valley City documents)

A potential rezone that would be a step towards a petting zoo and Christmas tree lot in a residential neighborhood was unanimously denied by the West Valley City Council in August. 

Dozens of residents turned out to voice their opinion on a property that was trying to be rezoned agricultural to ensure the owner, Roger Chase, could keep his personal animals on the property. 

Chase originally wanted to build a subdivision on the 2.3 acres of land at 3396 W. 3100 South and received approval for it in 2016 before changing his mind. 

“(I) fell in love with the place,” Chase said, “and had a dream of having a pumpkin patch.” 

The property has been zoned as single family residential since 1985 and doesn’t allow public uses such as a pumpkin patch or Christmas tree lot. It also limits the amount of animals one can have on a property.  

Chase said he wanted this property as open space for families to visit. 

“Seeing a place in West Valley where kids can come and see a pony ride or pet a llama or pet a miniature pony and see their eyes glow is pretty good,” Chase said. 

Chase had opened a petting zoo and offered pony rides for local families, even reaching a point where he created a website to advertise such services. Once Chase learned he was not in accordance with city codes to offer such attractions, he took down the website and signs around the property. He also removed some animals to come under compliance with city codes.

Aerial photographs from 1979 indicate a large barn structure and animal pens were on the property prior to its 1985 zone change. 

Some West Valley City residents voiced their desire to see the animals and farm-style décor remain intact. A few of whom had visited the pumpkin patch before. 

Erin Horne has a son who works as a farmhand on the property. She said this is rare in the community and should be kept. 

“We have so many children who need this. This is important because all we have is city blocks and buildings,” Horne said. “We need the farm stands.” 

Other residents voiced their desire to see a farming activity within the city and having a place for cub scouts to learn about animals and earn merit badges. 

“I would like in the middle of hundreds of blocks of houses and subdivisions and businesses, etc. to be able to have somewhere I can spend 10, 15 minutes driving somewhere I can spend three, five hours with my children letting them pet these animals and have them see this opportunity,” said resident Dean Miller. 

Not everyone felt that way though with many of those in opposition coming from nearby neighbors. 

The rezone, said Jody Knapp, the city’s zoning administrator, would still not allow public uses like petting zoos and hay rides. It would still require Chase to address parking and restroom facilities to be considered for a conditional use permit and city codes would need to be modified to allow Christmas tree lots in an agricultural zone. 

“There were no additional documents turned in for community use which is a completely separate type of application,” Knapp said. 

Equaling the support for the property rezone from the public was a desire to stop it. Neighbors opposed the rezone saying the property is not right for agriculture and the smells emitting from the area are out of control. 

Ken Thorup, who lives adjacent to the Chase property, said the smell is horrendous and his property has flies all the time. 

“Yes, I love animals. I’ve been around them all my life. I come from ranch people. But this is not 1917, it’s 2017. The land is short, the land is scarce in West Valley City,” Thorup said. 

Another neighbor, Benjamin Agor, said the smell and the flies are so bad he won’t use his backyard anymore.  

“Mr. Chase wants to have a place for his grandkids to pet llamas and goats, but we’re trying to raise kids on our property,” said Agor, who has lived in his home since 2008. 

The city council unanimously denied the rezone with some councilmembers stating an affinity for farming properties, but ultimately deciding the location is not appropriate for heavy animal use. 

Councilman Steve Buhler said he’s in favor of petting zoos and pumpkin patches, but felt the property is zoned residential and Chase knew it was residential. 

“In fact, what I’ve heard is he bought it because it was R-1-8 (meaning residential with minimum size of 8,000 square feet), but he changed his mind and disregarded the law that governed that property for a couple of years,” Buhler said during the city council meeting. 

Councilwoman Karen Lang added the problem is the location. “I think the idea is awesome, but it’s the placement of where he wants to do this and the commercial part that gives me pause.”